I used to watch them. They came and they went. The collar and tie. The priest, the probation officer, the so-called social worker. Through the broken window or grill from my stinking cell I watched them pass, the clean smell of their after shave wafting across and into my nostrils. I liked the scent but not the people bearing it. I wanted it but I did not want to change places with them. I was with the poor - as unwashed as I was - of Belfast and Derry estates, Tyrone and South Armagh villages. A better class of people. Despite no after-shave they even smelt better too. For years I never could figure out why.
There was no envy on my part for those 'Christian' people of so-called good intent. I would watch as they walked, ignoring me and the 'bad' people. Their smug sense of self-satisfaction adding a bounce to their step. Hypocrites that they were they could walk out smiling after having witnessed another beating, a kid being tortured, starved, beaten and degraded. And they walked but never talked. Their comfortable existence kept them quiet.
Ten men died because people like that did nothing. Because they stayed silent ten men had to speak in the only way they could in order to make the world listen. The boys on hunger strike were no saints - we can be grateful for that. If being saintly meant walking up the H-Block yard with your nose in the air, indifferent to the misery just yards away, feigning some Christianity then sainthood was definitely not for us. It seemed to be anything but what Jesus Christ stood for. But then he wasn't saintly enough for them either so they done him in. Just as they did Bobby, Tom, Red Mick and the others in.
Of course, it was 'suicide'. People 'took their own lives' and sinned against God their maker. Perhaps that eases the conscience for them as they sit in their big houses, looking out at their latest fancy car, tripping over the altar rails, collecting the next fat wage packet, buying the newest cologne.
Now when I think back to those days in the H-Blocks, I know why we smelt better than the 'good' people. They carried the real stench - the rotten odour of middle class corruption.